This year as I overcame my constant social anxiety and journeyed to ACL, I couldn’t help but feel….frustrated. I love a good festival, I really do. This year ACL’s lineup seemed highly done before. I’ve seen most of these bands a good 4 or 5 times this year (except you Radiohead). However, the weather was nice, I had applied 10 layers of sunblock and was ready to hit the crowds.
Just a little note: I go to festivals alone quite frequently, and it never gets easier, with all the freedom I have to explore whichever bands I choose, it also comes with a great deal of loneliness. To cope with that I cling to acquaintances and smile through the pain
This was the first year there was no Lyft or Uber, but the free festival bus was timely and efficient. There were so many amazing acts, I’m just going to put up the highlights because there is no way I can review them all. I’m just one person guys.
The first act on my list was Jess Glynne, I’d seen Jess a while ago but hot-damn she has stepped up her game. The choreography! The backup dancers! The OUTFITS!!!! It was an incredible way to start the day. When she belted out “Hold My Hand” I felt as if all my festival loneliness has washed away, and then back it came. Time to go off into the crowds again.
A brief moment of panic must have washed over The Strumbellas as they took the stage. They were greeted by hundreds of people shaking their heads in frustration. Their sound was off, but the chemistry between Dave and Simon was incredible, and the crowd was unbeatable for this one.
Julien Baker, is relatively small but packs a punch. I’ve been following her music this summer heavily and was excited to see her perform. A weird conflict was having her across the field from Die Antwoord. “You guys are missing Die Antwoord for me? How sweet,” she quipped as she launched into a set of solemn tunes off 2015 solo debut, Sprained Ankle. You would feel every emotion dripping from her lyrics. She is a poet in every way. Her delivery was raw and genuine and actually caught me off guard after watching so many larger, well-rehearsed and produced acts. It was one of the highlights of the day for me.
What can I say about Radiohead that hasn’t already been said? My expectations were high, but I was also a little worried about them playing a festival. “Burn The Witch” was sparkling and beautiful, “Exit Music” was haunting and ethereal, the fades into all of the songs and the way they played them was perfect. The nod to the Smiths was appreciated, the whole show was flawless. This is what we expected, and this is what we came for.
I’ve constantly raved about how amazing Margo Price is. She is the Cinderella story of the year and she has been compared to Loretta Lynn countless times. Her voice is so pure and her music is so genuine. She is really bringing authenticity back to country music. If you aren’t listening to her yet? What are you doing? Haven’t you heard me constantly talking about her? Am I ever wrong???? No, do it now.
Basia Bulat is a woman of many talents. “La La Lie” was one of my favorite songs this year and her album ‘Good Advice’ is flawless start to finish. She has this vintage feel to her songs and she plays a bazillion instruments, but when she takes out that auto-harp, that’s the best.